Often, it’s not a big bang that ends a marriage (though it certainly can be from betrayal and other significant relational traumas).
More common is the slow erosion of trust, connection and intimacy from small harmful incidents repeated over time.
The neglect and thoughtlessness that occurs over and over, wears away the connection between two people like a river carves a vast chasm through a canyon, leaving the space between impossible to cross .
“Year after year, he didn’t remember my birthday.”
“I could leave the house and be gone for 5 hours and he never even asked where I was or when I was coming home. He’s so focused on his own world, he has no clue what’s going on in mine.”
“We agreed he’d pick up the kids from school, but once again he got tied up at work and I had to do it”
“He leaves dirty dishes in the sink constantly and I’ve told him how much it bothers me over and over again”
“He makes plans to go golfing without ever talking to me about it”
Do people really end marriages over dirty dishes and golfing?
In my 30 years of experience working with couples, I can unequivocally say YES.
But we all know it’s not about the dishes…
So what is it about?
You’d be surprised how simple it is.
And how neglected it is.
This is how your marriage could end, but it doesn’t have to. If you integrate this simple practice into your daily life, it will help you build trust, connection and intimacy and a bridge across the canyon.
I acknowledge that the examples above refer to the male gender on purpose because typically it is the women in my office who complain about the neglect they experience from their husbands. The sad truth is that in our patriarchal world, men have not been taught or expected to attend to what’s going on for the people around them. They have been taught to perform, achieve and provide, and are so exhausted from the pressure of all that, they tune out.
Women, on the other hand, are taught to attend to everyone else’s needs to the point of neglecting their own well being and often feel unnecessarily guilty for speaking up and asking for the very appropriate attunement they long for.
This dynamic is unhealthy for both men and women. And it need not be like this anymore.
It’s my mission to end patriarchy, one relationship at a time through the work I do with the brave couples who come to my office burned out from the oppressive expectations of a patriarchal world that has no clue how to be relational.
Defined as “being careful not to cause inconvenience or hurt to others”, CONSIDERATION is a simple yet powerful relational skill to integrate into your daily life to quickly increase trust and connection in your marriage.
The way to integrate consideration is to slow down, pause, and before saying anything, scheduling anything, or doing anything, ask yourself this question, “How will this impact her?”
If I stop for a drink after leaving the office before heading home, how will it impact her?
If I sit and watch the football game for 2 hours while we have a houseful of guests, how will it impact her?
If I’m late to pick up the kids from school, how will it impact her (and the kids)?
“But wait a second! I shouldn’t have to ask permission to do things!” – you may be thinking…
That’s the patriarchal point of view you’ve been taught rearing it’s head once again.
In patriarchy you are independent, answer to no one, need no one and are above everyone else.
In a relational world, where connection and intimacy thrive, you recognize that what you do impacts others and take that into consideration with every decision you make.
You don’t live alone. You CHOSE to be married. Which means what you do or don’t do has impact on someone else.
Not just anyone else…the person you LOVE.
Each time you DON’T take her into consideration, you inflict harm and create more distance and disconnection, which often leads to divorce.
Consideration is an antidote.
Make it your mission, each day, for 3 weeks, to stop and ask yourself “how will this impact her?” and you will see how powerful the act of consideration is in all of your relationships.
And perhaps, this won’t be how your marriage ends.